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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2015 Feb;50(2):171-82. doi: 10.1007/s00127-014-1001-2. Epub 2015 Jan 7.

Transdiagnostic factors of psychopathology and substance use disorders: a review.

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Department of Psychology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY, 11794, USA,



Research on the structure of mental disorders and comorbidity indicates that many forms of psychopathology and substance use disorders are manifestations of relatively few transdiagnostic latent factors. These factors have important consequences for mental disorder research and applied practice.


We provide an overview of the transdiagnostic factor literature, with particular focus on recent advances.


Internalizing and externalizing transdiagnostic factors have been well characterized in terms of their structures, links with disorders, stability, and statistical properties (e.g., invariance and distributions). Research on additional transdiagnostic factors, such as thought disorder, is quickly advancing latent structural models, as are integrations of transdiagnostic constructs with personality traits. Genetically informed analyses continue to clarify the origins of transdiagnostic factor levels, and links between these factors and important environmental exposures provide promising new avenues of inquiry.


Transdiagnostic factors account for the development and continuity of disorders and comorbidity over time, function as the primary links between disorders and important outcomes such as suicide, mediate associations between environmental exposures and disorders, provide an empirically supported classification system, and serve as foci for efficient, broadband intervention approaches. Overall, transdiagnostic factor research indicates the paramount importance of understanding these constructs and, thereby, broadening our understanding of mental disorder in general.

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